Junk Fees for Renters (Boo!)

Homebuyers aren’t the only ones who need to lookout for garbage fees nowadays.

I’ve written a lot about nonsense fees charged by some mortgage lenders and escrow closing companies. Now it’s time to speak out for renters, because what’s happening isn’t right.

Let’s take a closer look at what’s legitimate and what’s bogus.

APPLICATION FEE goes to pay for the credit report and criminal background check. That’s fair. But you should receive a copy of those reports if you aren’t approved to rent the home. The National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit, moves this fee from “fair” to “junk” when the tenant can’t use them to apply elsewhere.

When a renter has to pay the application fee over and over again, it adds up to a significant sum. What if your credit and background is good, but there was too much competition for the unit for your application to be accepted? You should receive either a refund or a copy of your reports to use elsewhere.


Extra charges that pad the landlord’s pockets, as identified by the National Consumer Law Center, and objected to by Marcia Fudge, secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development are these:

  • Move-in charge
  • High-risk fee
  • Security bond
  • Convenience fees for paying rent online

If you’re charged for something that doesn’t make sense, you might want to quote Ms. Fudge of HUD: “Many renters today face fees that are hidden, duplication, or unnecessary.”

I personally know a renter who objected to the $35 credit report fee. She said she could get her credit report for a lot less than that, and she would provide it to the landlord. The landlord agreed. She brought in her own credit report and subsequently, leased the home. So I know it can be done.

For me, I would only object to costs that don’t make sense or for duplicate fees or for a report I could provide myself. And there is no way on earth I would pay a so-called convenience fee for paying rent online. It’s actually more convenient for the landlord, so if anything, they should be paying ME. Ha! If I had to pay by check to avoid that unfair cost, I would. Look at how much it adds up to over a year, and then decide for yourself.

Greed fees have long been a pet peeve for me. So I object and I fight them.

IF YOU ARE DENIED due to a rent-screen report, credit report, or any other report, you must get a copy so you can read it to see if it contains false information or information that belongs to someone who is not you. It’s your right to have an accurate report. Ms. Fudge also mentioned that many of these reports often “have inaccurate information and questionable validity in predicting renter behavior.”

If you see erroneous posts on your report, use the same strategies you read in Repair Your Credit Like the Pros to write a dispute and get it corrected.

I would like to thank the people who took the time recently to thank me for writing about finances and credit. Your encouragement means everything to me!

Leave a Reply